Baseball loss a wake-up call for the Wildcats
Sunday’s 9-2 loss to San Francisco at Hi Corbett Field might have been the wake-up call No. 10 Arizona needed.
The Wildcats couldn’t string together hits to produce runs and their pitchers were unable to get ahead in their counts against the Dons’ hitters. In the ninth inning, down 5-1, a manageable deficit exploded into a four-run bludgeoning that shut the door on the Wildcats (10-3), who defeated USF (5-7) on both Friday and Saturday night by a combined score of 11-6.
“It was a tough game,” sophomore catcher Riley Moore said. “I was frustrated with everyone. Nothing good came out of that.”
Sunday starter Stephen Manthei (1-1) did not last the first inning after walking three of USF’s first four batters and a giving up a run, and was pulled in favor of freshman Cody Moffett.
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Baseball lost 9-2 to San Francisco Sunday afternoon. The Cats won the series overall 2-1.
In all three at-bats in which he walked a batter, Manthei got behind in the count 3-0 before tossing a strike.
Moffett entered the game with two on base and one out, but was able to work himself out of the jam after giving up a RBI single via fielder’s choice.
Over the next four innings, Moffett retired 11 of the 14 batters he faced, with four strikeouts and one walk.
“I thought Cody Moffett did a really good job on damage control,” head coach Andy Lopez said after the game. “We just didn’t respond offensively after that first inning.
“Moffett probably put himself in the rotation there. He might be our Sunday starter.”
Said Moffett: “I was a little caught off guard in the first inning, but I had a feeling at some point I would be thrown in the game, so I was prepared. Of course, I wanted to go for longer, but [Lopez has] been doing this for 25 years, he probably made the right decision.”
For all that Moffett did for the Wildcats’ defense after the 2-0 lead they gave up in the first, the UA was unable to produce a hit off San Francisco starter Christian Cecilio, until a double by freshman shortstop Kevin Newman put the Wildcats in scoring position with one out. In a matter of minutes, the first signs of life by the Arizona offense were killed, as first baseman Sam Parris struck out looking and designated hitter Tyler Parmenter struck out swinging.
“Their starter was outstanding,” Lopez said. “It wasn’t overpowering velocity. He shut us down like we didn’t exist for five or six innings. I wish I could tell you ‘When you face 94-to-97 miles per hour, it’s kind of tough,’ but it wasn’t 94-to-97, and when you face this dominant breaking ball it’s tough.”
Lopez toyed with his rotation in the later innings, as the San Francisco lead crept higher and higher until the four-run ninth shut the door on the UA. The Dons scored one in the sixth on a passed ball after a Zach Gibbons triple, and in the seventh, Zachary Turner scored on Moore’s second passed ball of the game, after Turner knocked an RBI single up the middle.
After pitchers Augey Bill and Nick Cunningham left the game after 1.1 and one inning apiece, respectively, Lopez sent out Xavier Borde, Nathan Bannister, Vincent Littleman and Jesse Scholtens over a period of 2.2 innings, none of whom had any prior pitching experience in their careers.
“Manthei was supposed to go a little longer than whatever he went, and we wanted to give Moffett a chance, and I thought he did a marvelous job,” Lopez said. “At that point, yeah, it was just running some people out there. It didn’t feel like we were going to score, but we still wanted to get it close. Obviously, we didn’t.
”The only way [to find out about a player] is in a game. Sometimes, that’s painful. It was painful today. You still get your answers.”
The Wildcats have a short turnaround to Tuesday’s game at Hi Corbett with Texas Tech, giving them one day to put Sunday’s loss behind them.
According to Moore, it shouldn’t be a problem.
”[Today was] a wake-up call to our pitchers, and maybe to our offense, not stringing hits together,” Moore said. “As a whole, it’s baseball; you’re going to lose some. You’re going to have days like this. As a wake-up call, I think it might be kind of nice.”